Sunday, February 24, 2013

Why Twitter Makes Conferences Even Better!

Yesterday was the Dublin Literacy Conference.  If you've been following for awhile you know I LOVE this conference.  There are always so many smart speakers each and every year.  The combination of professional educators, authors and illustrations of children's books, and a dedicated audience always makes the day full of learning.  (Oh, and books ---- lots of books.)

In the last few years, that learning has been exponentially increased by Twitter.  How does Twitter change a conference you ask?  Let me tell you!

  • Virtual Attendance:  Torn between sessions?  Have to present when your favorite speaker has a session?  No worries.  Twitter friends will tweet the highlights from all over the conference.  By following the conversation, in this case #dublit13, there is no need to miss anything.
  • Back Channeling:   Back channeling makes conversations even more engaging.  Being able to follow the thoughts of other educators in the same session highlights important points, carries the conversation deeper, and helps me think about topics in a new way.  
  • Humor:  Thanks to Twitter you get an extra laugh every now and then.  There is usually a side conversation or two with a little bit of humor that makes the day even more fun!  (Especially when friends like @frankisibberson and @tonykeefer are in the house.)
  • Resources:  Through Twitter resources from sessions are shared.  Educators in sessions often tweet their own related resources they have created or discovered.  There is always much to learn and discover in these conversations beyond the general points of the session.
  • Meeting Tweeps:  Though I look incredibly ridiculous walking around conferences trying to recognize the people I follow on Twitter, it is fabulous to finally find success.   I'm not very good at visualizing the 2D avatar and spotting the 3D face, but I did manage to meet, catch up with, and get to know @aruddteacher100  @jenorr  @mbheartsbooks  @laurakomos (yes, we've met at several conferences, but because of distance I always look forward to catching up) @dahlia_constant @wizardozteacher.  Unfortunately I missed a several people I was hoping to meet.  We really need to wear special tags or plan a meeting place.  I think I saw a few others, but couldn't definitely match a name with the avatar.  My apologies if I looked right at you, but didn't make the final connection.  
  • Professional Conversations:  Thanks to twitter many of us have been having conversations across Twitter and blogs for awhile.  It is very easy to see each other in a session, sit together at lunch, or chat in the hallway about education and learning.  Friends on Twitter are always advocates for children and public education.  Our lunch table was filled with Twitter friends discussing sessions and education.  
  • Continued Professional Learning:  The conversation doesn't end at the close of the conversation. Thanks to Twitter these conversations will continue.  
Yes, the Dublin Literacy Conference was amazing, but the new thinking I'm taking away from the conference is a result of a combination of thoughtful sessions, informative tweets, and great conversations with colleagues.  Thanks to everyone!  

Dublin Literacy Resources
Tweetdoc collection of #dublit13 tweets

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dublin Literacy Conference

Dublin Literacy Conference
Today is the Dublin Literacy.  It is truly my favorite conference as it is reasonably priced, full of great speakers, and the perfect place to connect with so many smart educators.  The conversations in the halls are as thought provoking as the speakers who share with us.  This year I am presenting in two sessions. You'll find the resources here:

Supporting Primary Nonfiction Literacy Learners

The new Common Core has created much conversation about nonfiction. Nonfiction is a big part of our reading lives. The structures of nonfiction can by various and challenging for young readers. How do we help young literacy learners navigate nonfiction? In this session, Mandy and I will take a look at the Common Core and share ways to weave nonfiction into our classroom communities.

Session A7 (10:30)  Room B172  Mandy Robek and I

Looking for nonfiction?
Visit #nf10for10 jog
26 bloggers share top 10 nonfiction picks

Using Evernote to Capture Literacy Learning

In education today it is more important than ever to document student learning.  Formative assessment, observation notes, and work samples which illustrate a student's learning journey are essential in planning, monitoring growth, collaborating with support staff, and keeping parents informed.  "Kidwatching," a term coined by Ken & Yetta Goodman, can be captured using Web 2.0 tools.  Evernote allows audio recording, capturing snapshots, written notes when conferring, tagging, sorting, and much more.  

Session  B16  (11:30)   Room B156   Deb Frazier, Karen Terlecky and I

Looking for resources?
Get started:  Capturing Student Learning Journeys

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Nonfiction Top Ten: #nf10for10

Those of you who follow this blog know that August is our big picture book event.  During #pb10for10, blogs join us in celebrating 10 picture books they just can't live without.  The result is always a great resource full of must-read books.  Last August, Julie Balen (Write at the Edge) suggested it might be fun to do the same thing with nonfiction.  Mandy Robek (Enjoy and Embrace Learning), my co-conspirator in #pb10for10, and I thought it was a great idea so Julie, Mandy and I worked to create a plan.

Today is our first nonfiction event, #nf10for10.  I'm looking forward to reading everyone's posts.  We're hoping you'll join us today!

Ways to participate:
  • Write a post with your 10 favorite nonfiction books and link it here today.  In the coming days, I will create a jog of all the posts.
  • Leave a comment with your favorite nonfiction book(s) here 
  • Stop by Enjoy and Embrace Learning or Write at the Edge to comment
  • Tweet your favorites using the hashtag #nf10for10 
Nonfiction for the Classroom
Since planning the event, I've been considering my list of ten nonfiction books I can't live without in my classroom.  Honestly, the task seemed a little overwhelming.  To me, the line between fiction and nonfiction is sometimes gray as nonfiction comes in many structures and sub-genres.  When a book task seems daunting, I head to my favorite bookstore to get some inspiration.  There's nothing like a few hours over good books to clarify one's thinking.  I felt better after some time with books and an interesting nonfiction conversation with Salli Oddi at Cover-to-Cover bookstore.  I think you'll find a few of my new finds on this list.  

So this is my disclaimer:  I do not know, or claim to know, too much about the true lines of nonfiction. This post considers nonfiction as I see it and does not necessarily represent the thinking of nonfiction gurus.  :o)  

To get myself out of this dilemma, I created a little plan to make up my own ways to divide nonfiction.  Since I teach first grade and enjoy counting by 2s, I decided to divide my list by characteristics I consider when choosing nonfiction for the classroom.

Clearly Nonfiction:  These are the books I like to use for whole group discussions about nonfiction.  These books often have the features we commonly associate with nonfiction.  They make strong exemplars for getting the conversation about nonfiction started with children.

How Things Work in the House (2012) by Lisa Campbell Ernst:  How does a crayon work?  How does a toilet work?  How does a cat work?  You can find out in this book about how things work in the house.  Each double page spread is a new question about something in the house.  The author uses labels, small snippets of text placed around the item, and drawings of the items to tell more about them.  This book is a great mentor text for short pieces of writing in a matter unit of study.

Time to Eat (2011) by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page:  Katie Dicesare of Creative Literacy first introduced this collection of titles to me.  In addition to Eat, Jenkins and Page have Time to Sleep and Time for a Bath.  Young readers are interested in the unusual facts about organisms and their eating habits.  Each page is a new organism and information about what they eat.  Each page has an illustration of the organism and a funny comment beside it.  The final pages share more information about each of the organisms discussed in the book.  This makes an excellent mentor text for young nonfiction writers.  The book's focus on one topic across animals requires a different viewpoint and more synthesis of a deeper subject than typical animal information books.  The structure of the book with one animal and information only on its eating habits is a structure easily understood and utilized by young writers.  

Literary Nonfiction:  Yes, I know there is a debate about whether this more narrative version of nonfiction is even really nonfiction.  However, this is a quickly growing genre in children's literature.  There are many books that use the narrative structure to help readers learn more about a subject.  These books make great conversation starters for, "Is this nonfiction?".  These books also make wonderful read alouds to share and demonstrate to young writers how facts can be turned into story.

Miracle Mudd (2013) by David A. Kelly:  This is the story of Lena Blackburne who was a baseball player and coach, but is perhaps most known for his special mud that took the shine off the baseballs so they are easier for players to see and better for pitchers to grip.  The book is the story of Blackburne's brief career that soon led him to the discovery of this special mud.  The back of the book has a short biography of his life and this secret mud.  I know this book will be a hit - actually a home run - in my classroom.

How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum (2011) by Jessie Hartland:  This book is a fun read aloud for young children.  It goes through the steps of locating the fossils of the dinosaurs, bringing them to the museum to sort, and recreating the dinosaur for people to view.  In this cumulative story the author tells important information in the process and then repeats the previous in rhythmic phrases.  The vocabulary in this book is challenging, but fun.  Kids are fascinated by dinosaurs, and will love joining in during the repetitive read aloud.    

Want more literary nonfiction?  Stop by to see my Listmania of literary nonfiction.  

Nonfiction Poetry:  This is another growing genre.  In nonfiction poetry, poets use careful observation and/or study of information to write a poem about a topic.  

An Egret's Day (2010) by Jane Yolen:  
I must admit that personal interest likely plays a large part in putting this book here.  I'm fascinated with egrets (and herons).  This poetry book has an interesting structure in which Jane Yolen shares a poem with a fact on the opposite page throughout the book.  My favorite poem from this egret collection is Egret in Flight.  Yolen has many other published poetry books that follow this format.

A Full Moon is Rising (2011) by Marilyn Singer:  This book begins by sharing information about the phases of the moon.  It then shares poems about the moon set in places around the world.  The poems speak of the moon's role around the world.  In the back of the book there is more information about the moon across many countries.

Want more nonfiction poetry?  Stop by to see my Listmania of Nonfiction Poetry.  

Book Apps:  I felt in today's digital world I needed to give some thought to the nonfiction book apps currently available for young readers.

Penguin's Family by Kathleen M. Hollenbeck:  This app has beautiful illustrations that help support the story of this penguin learning to live on his own.  Readers learn about penguins as they listen to this literary tale of penguin learning about his world.  This app will read to the reader as it highlights words.  The reading is nearly fluent.  The end of the app shares facts about the humboldt penguin.

Bats!  Furry Fliers of the Night by Mary Kay Carson:  I'm going to have to be honest here.  This apps amazing 3D pictures caught my attention.  The app has read aloud capabilities.  There's just something amazing about watching the bats swoop and seeing the dense forest ahead.  This app is organized into seven chapters about bats.  Readers will enjoy the animation and the information in this engaging app.

Want more iBooks and book apps?  Stop by to see my Pinterest Nonfiction iBook and App Board.  

Accessible Nonfiction:  We're so fortunate to have a growing number of nonfiction books for young readers.  I can't help but read nonfiction with an eye toward my primary students.  These titles are books that students can often read independently and find engaging.

True or False Amphibians by Melvin and Gilda Berger:  The readers in my classroom spend hours with this book every year.  On one page readers are given a statement such as, "Toads jump like frogs do.  True or false?"  Then when the page is turned the answer awaits with more information.  I know you want to know if toads jump like frogs, but I'm afraid you'll want to find a copy of this book to find this answer and many more.

Why Do Cats Meow?  by Joan Holub:  I wish you could see the copy sitting on my lap right now.  It's been read and reread.  It's been taped and retaped.  The pages are worn and the book is well loved.  This book, and the other "why do" titles, are a big hit every year in my classroom.  This year's group INSISTED we have a "why do" basket.  They're obsessed with these titles.  There is a lot of text on each page, but my young readers pour through to find out more.

Want more accessible nonfiction?  Stop by to see my Listmania of Nonfiction for Kids to Read.

Remember to leave a link to your post in the comments below.  You'll want to stop by the other blogs to find more nonfiction titles for your classroom.  In the coming week, I will bring the posts together into a  jog which will be a smart resource for nonfiction.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Join Us: Nonfiction Picture Book Event #nf10for10

Join us February 19th for this
nonfiction event.
As many of you know, for the last three years Mandy Robek, of Enjoy and Embrace Learning, and I have hosted an August picture book event.  Those who join the event share 10 picture books they just can't live without.  The result has been three amazing picture book resources:

Last August, Julie Balen of Write at the Edge, suggested a similar event featuring nonfiction might be fun.  Mandy and I are always up for a little challenge, and thought Julie was exactly right.  For some time now, publishers have been improving the nonfiction releases for young readers.  As educators, we are fortunate to have so many interesting nonfiction books to add to our classroom libraries.  Now, with the release of the Common Core, there is even more discussion focused around nonfiction.  

It has been six months since our picture book event.  Many of us are stuck inside as temperatures plummet and snow covers our roads.  We thought this might be the perfect time to talk about nonfiction.  There has certainly been a lot of banter about nonfiction on Twitter.  We're wondering what are the 10 nonfiction books you cannot live without in your classroom?  What books do your students love?  What nonfiction books would you suggest for other educators?  


Julie, Mandy and I are hosting a nonfiction picture book event.  
  • What:  10 nonfiction books you can't live without
  • Hashtag:  #nf10for10
  • Who:  Anyone interested --- educators, media specialists, librarians, parents, etc.  
  • When:  Tuesday, February 19th 
  • Where:  All posts will need to be linked here at Reflect and Refine on February 19th.  
Start creating stacks of your favorite nonfiction and consider the 10 nonfiction books you just couldn't live without.  On February 19th --- because as Mandy said, "9 favorite nonfiction books plus your 1 very favorite is 10" --- link your post to this blog.  (Yes, I teach first grade...I know that 1 is really a ten.  Bahahaha.  It's a stretch, but work with us here.)  I will then compile the posts into a Jog that will be a terrific nonfiction resource for everyone.  

We hope you'll join us!  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Stand Tall: Books About Bullying

Tragically this week there was a fifth grade student in the county where we live who committed suicide.  There is much talk about the cause and much blame on bullying.  I cannot imagine what must be going on in such a young child's mind for her to take such a drastic step.  I also cannot imagine the pain her family is enduring right now.  My heart goes out to all in this sad situation.

I do not know this child, nor do I know anything about this story, but it did make me stop to think a bit. Tragedies like this are reminders to stay vigilant in our work in the classroom.  They are reminders to listen closely.  They are reminders to not only notice bullying and address it, but also to build children so they can stand tall.  This tragedy has reminded me of some of my favorite picture books for talking with students about this tough subject:

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell 

One by Kathryn Otoshi

The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill
The Great Fuzz Frenzy by Janet Stevens   

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

My Listmania for other books about building social imagery.  What are you favorites?